Retrospective : An Exhibition


14th April 2011. Written by Xin Li.
The last few days had been a terribly busy week as we were preparing for our final year exhibition on the 14th of April which has taken place last Thursday. The exhibition is a very short event which took place at the Asian Civilizations Museum from 1 pm to 9 pm and showcases our works and progress from Semester 1 to Semester 2.


Despite the short time span, the efforts put into the exhibition seemed enormous and admirable considering the fact that preparations were only done when we finally manage to catch some breath after final critique. Hence, despite having rough edges here and there, it was comforting to see that the exhibition was able to proceed smoothly with the pedestals, works and portfolios up.


The exhibition was hosted in the River Room of the historic Empress Place Building which houses the Asian Civilizations Museum. For an architecture student, I thought it was rather meaningful location to hold the exhibition as the room opens out to a terrace that allows one to enjoy a rather good view of the surroundings around the belly of the carp.


Immediately, you come face to face with works of Kenzo Tange, I.M Pei and Kisho Kurokawa. The venue was also in close proximity with the works of the late Ong Teng Cheong, Norman Foster as well as G.D Coleman. Maybe it was intentional that such an exhibition was to take place near the Raffles Landing Point perhaps to remind what Singapore was made of and the long way it has come.

Retrospective - My Exhibits

As the exhibition was themed “Retrospective”, I decided to take the opportunity to showcase my almost all my drawings done during my National Service (The giant house belongs to Fang Yi Long). The exhibition started off on a bumpy note as participants including me had to tackle the collapsing boards as the adhesive of Velcro strips were insufficient to hold the mounting boards and the wooden frame together.


Still for students who had been through plaster leakages, failed structures, rejection and numerous cuts over the course of 2 semesters. This is nothing for us and at 1 PM the exhibition started as friends of my fellow studio mates and museum visitors started trickling into the exhibition despite the downpour.

Retrospective - Wu Zhuo Yi's Booklet

Retrospective - Wu Zhuo Yi's Poster

One of my favorite portfolios at the exhibition got to be Wu Zhou Yi’s witty and well-composed booklet which made smart choices of words. The title for the booklet for example, “Monday, Thursday” may evoke strong reminder of Rebecca Black’s piece of kitsch, “Friday”, but for us, it actually referred to the two studio days in the week. It was a simple yet brilliant portfolio.

Retrospective - Julian Cheng's Exhibits

Here Julian Cheng’s portfolio cover attempts to trick the eyes with a special material that seemed to move as you walk past it. The model is from semester 2 which involved designing a house for a group of characters (based on not based on the film, Sandcastle, Invisible City or Rear Window). A rather clean and refined work, the approach reminded me of Norman Foster’s Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.

Retrospective - Gee Ming Wei

My studio mate Gee Ming Wei, nicknamed Silent 'Killer' amends his model, an intricately built detailed model that explores the opposing forces arising from the Sandcastle’s main character, En’s need for privacy and personal space while coexisting with his mum and grandma who was had dementia.

Retrospective - Phaow Yen Shan's Poster

Retrospective - Phaow Yen Shan's Model

Phoaw Yen Shan’s work definitely gathered much drama with his avant garde design for an archeologist. The use of acrylic tubes allows light to travel to the basement of the house. The unconventional play of lights and multitude of acrylic tubes creates a cavern like effect (although some mistaken it as Changi Airport’s rainforest fountains).

Retrospective - Goh Weixiang's Booklet

Fellow makan kaki and studiomate, Goh Weixiang spots an interesting cover for his portfolio booklet, the two joins together to form a portrait of him.

Retrospective - Chong Wen Jin's Model

Chong Wen Jin’s model reminded me of a contemporary elven city.

Retrospective - Iven Peh's Poster

Iven Peh’s board stood out from the rest with his stark simplicity but impactful nonetheless.

Smiling Orchid - Tea Menu Items

How can any exhibition be without food? The catering for the event was by Smiling Orchid, an established name in the catering industry. However, in my humble opinion, the food falls short of its reputation, joining the ranks of disappointing and overpriced Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls as well as Bak Kut Teh restaurants.

Smiling Orchid - Tea Menu Items

The Tea Menu (costing around 700-1000 SGD for about 100 people) features 7 food items namely Mini Tuna Croissants, Mini Chocolate Eclairs, Walnut Cakes, Mini Seafood Quiches, Chocolate Fudge Cakes, Mini Cream Puffs and Mini Fruit Tartlets, and Chilled Pink Guava as the choice of drink.

Smiling Orchid - Mini Croissants

The Mini Chocolate Eclairs could not hold a candle to KG Catering’s Chocolate Éclair the chocolate spread was very thin. The Chocolate Fudge Cakes was only chocolate sponge cake with a jelly like layer of brown substance on it. The mini tuna croissants were inconsistent in terms of texture.

Smiling Orchid - Mini Seafood Quiches

However, the Fruit Tartlets and Mini Seafood Quiches were rather decent. Overall however, the food failed to satisfy in terms of taste given its hefty price tag. What lacks in quality was perhaps salvaged partly by the mesmerizing night view of the Singapore River from the terrace.

Smiling Orchid - Mini Fruit Tartlets

Mood of the participants and visitors doesn’t seem to be dampened by the food. Even the often grumpy Father of Modern Singapore Architecture showed a compassionate and loving side of him as he played with the daughter of his colleague at the exhibition.


Like an architecture model, the exhibition is not without its flaws. Criticism has been made on the layout of the design to the conduct of fellow course mates with much tension rising as the exhibition date got closer.


Fortunately, the exhibition was successful with everything set up. This was no miracle but rather the efforts of all who contributed to the realization of the exhibition. There are simply too many to thank for the event.
There are :
the people who called and searched high and low for sponsors,
the people who designed and made ideas real,
the people who spread the word of the exhibition,
the people who worked with the museum and the school,
the people who travelled all the way to school from all over Singapore to help
the people who stayed overnight to cut wood, make markings or glue the parts.
the people who supervise, coordinate and communicate
the people who helped to buy Bubble teas or MacDonalds
the people who checked for errors and did quality checks
the people who calculated
the people who improvised
the people who did more than others
every contribution counts in the fruition of the exhibition.


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